Pennsylvania iGaming Wraps 2020 with Record Stats

Pennsylvania iGaming Wraps 2020 with Record Stats

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) revealed its final 2020 statistics. There is good news and bad news. The latter is that 2020 was a horrible year for the gambling industry in general due to the pandemic. The good news, however, is that internet gaming was in place to make up some of the difference with an impressive revenue stream.

Total gaming revenue for 2020 exceeded $2.6 billion. While that was a 22% drop from 2019 numbers, it could have been worse. Land-based casinos closed their doors entirely for several months out of the year due to Covid-19 dangers, and they operated at a limited capacity for many other months.

But newer streams of revenue swooped in to keep that loss from being much worse. Internet gaming added more than $565 million to the totals, sports wagering added more than $190 million, and fantasy sports and VGTs together threw in another $37 million.

As for the month of December, internet gaming – even online poker – increased from the previous month as land-based gambling options shut down again.

It’s safe to say that Pennsylvania is pleased with internet gaming’s results and contributions thus far.

Online Poker Completes Its First Full Year

The one and only online poker site in Pennsylvania is PokerStars, which operates in conjunction with FOX Bet and casino partner Mount Airy. It launched in November 2019, but only in 2020 did it provide a full year’s look at its revenue.

As for December 2020, online poker revenue rose to end a roller-coaster year. The coronavirus shutdowns of live poker rooms pushed online poker numbers up 71% in March and another 68% in April. However, the rest of the year saw monthly decreases except a small uptick in October and then a more solid increase in December. Details of the month-by-month stats for online poker are in last month’s revenue recap.

December’s numbers, in fact, showed monthly and yearly increases.

–December 2020 online poker revenue: $2,729,729

–November 2020 online poker revenue: $2,409,235

–December 2019 online poker revenue: $2,473,137

Month-on-month change:  13.3% increase

Year-on-year change:  10.4% increase

For the first time, Pennsylvania can show an entire year’s worth of online poker revenue. It is necessary to note, however, that the state has hosted only one site since the sector’s launch. Many believe that will launch in early 2021, and PartyPoker seems ready as well. A competitive market might increase the overall revenue for online poker.

At this time, online poker remains a very small portion of the Pennsylvania iGaming market, but if operators are able to convince state governors to sign multi-state poker sharing agreements in 2021, numbers could rise significantly.

Internet Gaming Finishes First Phenomenal Year

The entirety of the internet gaming sector closed out its first full year with pomp and circumstance. It was the star of the year, contributing more than $565 million to a gambling industry hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

Twelve casinos are listed as producing internet gaming revenue in December, a month that saw a significant increase from the previous month due to fresh shutdowns of land-based casinos due to another wave of the virus. The annual increase is not exactly fair, as the first few online casino sites didn’t even launch until mid-2019.

Monthly revenue was on track to grow before the pandemic, but the casino shutdowns did boost the numbers in March, April, and May. There were interesting bumps for the rest of the year, mostly small increases but some downswings, too.

Overall, though, the numbers for Pennsylvania igaming in 2020 were solid. They should settle into a steady growth pattern in 2021, much like New Jersey’s internet gaming market did over the past several years.

–December 2020 total igaming revenue: $71,609,260

–November 2020 total igaming revenue: $59,775,505

–December 2019 total igaming revenue: $10,624,699

Month-on-month change:  19.8% increase

Year-on-year change:  574% increase

In December alone, internet gaming sites contributed $29,022,596 to Pennsylvania in tax revenue.

It is unclear if any new sites or skins will join the PA igaming market in 2021. What is clear is that this gaming sector started strong and should continue some path of growth. Eventually, land-based casinos will reopen, but online games will likely keep a percentage of the players it attracted during the pandemic.

Even as it is, the full-year of 2020 igaming revenue delivered $565,776,908 to the overall totals. When the state suffered due to a lack of casino revenue for month after month as the pandemic raged, internet gaming was that new source of revenue…and a significant one at that.

Solid 2020 Sports Betting Growth

The sports betting sector was hit by the pandemic when sports teams couldn’t compete earlier in 2020. Going by handle, it led to a 60% decrease in March and another 185% in April. But as leagues began to find ways to play, bettors were anxious to wager. That led to increases for most of the rest of 2020.

December did see a handle decrease in November but an uptick in December. As with most other sectors, sports betting handle and revenue should both even out as 2021 gets underway. But sports betting will always have some fluctuations depending upon seasons and schedules.

The December numbers show how valuable online sports betting is to the casinos. When they closed, the retail outlets were often unable to take bets, but online revenue continued and comprised the vast majority of the revenue in December.

As for the handle, it swung upward:

–December 2020 sports betting handle: $548,590.065

–November 2020 sports betting handle: $491,910,713

Month-on-month change:  11.5% increase

Revenue is the number that matters more for the state. In December, the revenue generated $12,261,434 in tax money for Pennsylvania. Those monthly revenue numbers were:

–December 2020 sports betting revenue: $34,059,539

–November 2020 sports betting revenue: $37,350,246

–December 2019 sports betting revenue: $11,374,482

Month-on-month change:  8.8% decrease

Year-on-year change:  199.44% increase

For the entire year of 2020, Pennsylvania reported revenue of $189,703,465, more than double what it collected in 2019.

More than a dozen sports betting sites operate in Pennsylvania, the vast majority of which offer online betting. Hollywood Casino at Penn National, for example, brought in more than $13.8 million in online revenue as compared to only $51K from retail in December. Most tend toward a mix of retail and online.

As sports resume more normal league schedules and regularly-scheduled games in 2021, online revenue might begin to settle a bit as well.

Total Gaming in December

The final PGCB numbers relating to December income once again showed the benefits of iGaming for the casinos that have signed on to it.

Casinos closed on December 12, and their doors remained shuttered for the rest of 2020. With that in mind, internet gaming delivered $46,246,757 for the state in December, with retail slots at only $42,197,822 and retail table games at $17,057,943.

The loss of land-based revenue, however, resulted in a significant overall dip:

–December 2020 total gaming revenue: $168,739,237

–November 2020 total gaming revenue: $284,267,320

–December 2019 total gaming revenue: $291,882,735

Month-on-month change:  40.6% decrease

Year-on-year change:  42.19% decrease

If vaccine distribution evens out and speeds up in Pennsylvania in the coming months, casinos should reopen soon and slowly but surely increase its capacity levels. As long as land-based gambling venues can begin to find their footing, internet gaming can truly show its growth potential.

Total 2020 Gaming Revenue

The trend over the past decade was not super impressive but the last few years showed a steady upward trend, especially as new forms of gaming contributed to the totals.

–2010 total gaming revenue: $2,486,408,061

–2011 revenue: $3,024,772,959 (up 21.65%)

–2012 revenue: $3,158,317,863 (up 4.4%)

–2013 revenue: $3,113,928,590 (down 1.4%)

–2014 revenue: $3,069,077,597 (down 1.4%)

–2015 revenue: $3,173,788,771 (up 3.4%)

–2016 revenue: $3,213,422,178 (up 1.2%)

–2017 revenue: $3,226,917,156 (up 0.42%)

–2018 revenue: $3,266,507,581 (up 1.2%)

–2019 revenue: $3,412,594,239 (up 4.5%)

–2020 revenue: $2,653,511,029 (down 22.2%)

The first year that sports wagering and fantasy sports revenue added to the gaming industry was 2018. The following year, internet gaming (poker and casino games) and VGTs (video gaming terminals) launched and became a part of the overall revenue.

Leave it to a pandemic to ruin the annual increases.

There is no way to predict what will happen in 2021 due to the pandemic unknowns, but it will likely be better than 2020. Casinos and gaming venues have found ways to deal with some risks. All the while, internet gaming continues to grow and welcome new players online.

Cheers to a better 2021.



About Jennifer Newell

Jennifer began writing about poker while working at the World Poker Tour in the mid-2000s. Since then, her freelance writing career has taken her from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and back to her hometown of St. Louis, where she now lives with her two dogs. She continues to follow the poker world as she also launches a new subscription box company and finishes her first novel. Jennifer has written for numerous publications including and has followed the US poker and gaming market closely for the last 15 years. Follow Jen on Twitter

Disclaimer: The information on this site is my interpretation of the laws as made available online. It is in no way meant to serve as legal advice or instruction. We recommend that you seek legal advice from a licensed attorney for further or official guidance.

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